Monitoring the Future Results 2020 Survey

NIDA Director Dr. Nora Volkow discusses results of the 2020 Monitoring the Future Survey, with some vaping of nicotine and marijuana stabilizing, but the use of amphetamines and inhalants increasing among eighth graders.

Monitoring the Future Results 2020 Survey

Video length: 3:22


Dr. Nora Volkow speaking:

The most important finding to me was that we had seen doubling of vaping of nicotine, and of vaping of THC among tenth and twelfth graders. And that has been… It seems to have stabilized. 

The other very good news about the survey is that we are continuing to see very, very low rates of smoking amongst teenagers. The lowest we've ever had in the survey. And we're also seeing the low levels of alcohol drinking behavior which is among eighth, tenth, and twelfth graders. And finally, the consumption of marijuana is also stable.

Use of amphetamines among eighth graders increased from 3.5% in 2017 to 5.3% in 2020.

Similarly, the use of inhalants in this age group increased from 3.8% in 2016 to 6.1% in 2020. And finally, the use of the over-the-counter cough medicine, which contains codeine, which is an opiate, among eighth graders has increased from 1.6% in 2015 to 4.6% in 2020. So, while the news tends to be very good on tenth and twelfth graders. Overall, I am concerned that the use of drugs amongst eighth graders is going up.

We have to be aware that the data that we generated this year on Monitoring the Future was completed before the close down due to COVID. And as a result of that, it does not reflect the dramatic changes in lifestyle that teenagers have undergone because of COVID. And though it is likely that these numbers will change as we survey the use of drugs during the COVID pandemic.

It is hard to predict, because a lot of drug experimentation is peer pressure. And to the extent that teenagers have had less opportunity to interact with other teens, it is possible that a lower number of them will have initiated in drug taking. But on the other hand, there is also communication and access to delivery systems like electronic cigarettes that may be consumed as a way to cope with the increased stress associated with COVID. So, we will need to get the data to actually know, ultimately, how the COVID pandemic has affected use of drugs among teenagers in our country.